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Retail Tech: Aptean Acquires Exenta, Zebra Snags Fetch Robotics for $290M

The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.

Fit technology

Otero Menswear/Perfitly

Otero Menswear, a men’s fashion lifestyle apparel brand catering to men with heights between 5’4” and 5’10”, has officially unveiled its partnership with Perfitly, a virtual reality/augmented reality and AI-powered virtual fitting room solution, to coincide with its new website launch.

As a result of the partnership, Otero’s website is centered around Perfitly’s virtual fitting and tailored size recommendation capabilities. Once on the homepage, users select their height, body type, body shape, pant waist size and length. From there, Perfitly powers and presents a personalized virtual avatar based on the user’s measurements. Users can then select from a range of polos and T-shirts displayed on the personalized avatar.

Perfitly powers and presents a personalized virtual avatar based on the user’s measurements. Users can then select from a range of polos and T-shirts which are displayed on the personalized avatar.

“Perfitly’s virtual fitting process is centered on a seamless user experience as the key differentiator between ourselves and other targeted e-commerce apparel brands,” said Steve Villanueva, CEO and co-founder of Otero. “Our goal at Otero is to provide shorter men with stylish apparel and the ‘Otero Perfect Fit.’ Our attention to detail and enthusiasm is mirrored in Perfitly’s dedication to harnessing first-rate technology to provide each shopper with an unparalleled and personalized experience. Perfitly technology has helped Otero achieve unprecedented low return rates (3 percent compared to the industry standard of 30 percent for males) and high levels of customer satisfaction via the Otero Perfect Fit Journey.”

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Otero uses a three-dimensional design based on height, size and body type and has found that 93 percent of men have two different body types, each requiring a unique fit. Incorporating this with the ability to create a personalized avatar, Perfitly enables a user to “try-on” a shirt and see a 360-degree rendering of their “perfect fit” before purchase, removing the guesswork and risk of purchasing online. Perfitly’s virtual fitting solutions outlined in this partnership are helping to drive reduced returns and increased efficiency in supply and operations.

In addition to providing enjoyable user experiences and cost-effective business solutions, Perfitly’s technology aligns with Otero’s sustainability goals, the companies say. Both companies recognize the value in reducing returns, which in turn cuts down on resources dedicated to supply and fulfillment operations. Moving forward, Perfitly and Otero plan to work in tandem as their sustainability, retail and e-commerce goals continue to complement one another.

Blue Delta Jeans/Bold Metrics

Blue Delta Jeans Co. and AI-powered body scanning company Bold Metrics launched a virtual fitting experience to help create custom denim jeans for customers without the need for in-person measuring or a time-consuming fit process.

“Traditionally, we required 16 body measurements from every client to make a pair of bespoke jeans, and these measurements were taken in person using a measuring tape,” said Blue Delta Jeans Co. CEO and co-founder Josh West. “Now, with the implementation of the Bold Metrics Virtual Tailor, we are able to collect these same measurements from anyone, anywhere, anytime, and have full confidence that the product we make will fit.”

Blue Delta Jeans Co. and AI-powered body scanning company Bold Metrics launched a virtual fitting experience to help create custom denim jeans for customers without the need for in-person measuring or a time-consuming fit process.

The Bold Metrics Virtual Tailor solution produces more than 50 unique customer body measurements via its AI body scanning technology, with the company saying that its accuracy is comparable to a master tailor, in effect creating a fast, accurate and frictionless online fitting process for new customers.

Together, both companies have created a scalable, direct-to-consumer custom denim model that makes on-demand custom manufacturing a reality. After implementation, return rates have fallen to just 7 percent, the companies said.

By creating a seamless and personalized fitting experience around custom denim, Blue Delta Jeans Co. has significantly expanded its potential customer base, the company said, while elevating the overall retail experience shopping for custom denim jeans online.

Retail marketing

Bluecore

Bluecore, the retail technology company transforming casual shoppers into lifetime customers for the world’s fastest growing retail brands, has closed a $125 million Series E funding round. The round was led by existing investor Georgian, a multi-billion-dollar fintech company that invests in high-growth software companies. The new investment brings Bluecore’s total funding to more than $225 million and puts its valuation at $1 billion.

With the investment, Georgian has doubled its investment in Bluecore for the second year in a row. Georgian also led Bluecore’s series B in 2015 and Series D in 2020. It was joined by other existing investors FirstMark and Norwest, and new investor Silver Lake Waterman.

The company will use the funding to accelerate its e-commerce product development and investment in AI and analytics. With Bluecore’s focus on e-commerce KPIs such as increased purchased frequency and customer lifetime value, the company says it is responsible for driving “billions” in gross merchandising value (GMV) for more than 400 retailers and brands including Foot Locker, Lane Bryant, Express, Tommy Hilfiger and The North Face.

Bluecore‘s tech acts on the volume and variety of real-time shopper signals that retailers often need to grow customer loyalty. Its predictive retail AI platform merges three traditionally disconnected data sets into a single unified view: shopper identity, shopper behavior and the product catalog.

The platform leverages this first-party data to predict and execute on the experience a shopper would ideally receive across owned and paid digital channels, including email, e-commerce websites, and social media and search ads.

Bluecore’s platform consists of three main elements: Bluecore Communicate, which is concerned with automating personalized customer communications; Bluecore Advertise, which uses predictive modeling to target new and existing customer segments on paid media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads; and Bluecore Site, which uses predictive signals to deliver personalized marketing campaigns.

Visibility into this convergence of consumer interactions and product data additionally allow Bluecore’s customers to make more informed merchandising and pricing decisions, and forecast supply chain logistics.

Robotics

Zebra Technologies/Fetch Robotics

Zebra Technologies has completed its acquisition of Fetch Robotics for $290 million. With Fetch under its belt, Zebra will be able to leverage the company’s Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), which are used for optimized picking in fulfillment centers and distribution centers, just-in-time material delivery in manufacturing facilities and automating manual material movement in any facility.

Zebra owned a 5 percent minority stake in Fetch Robotics prior to the acquisition, valuing the company at $305 million. Zebra, which provides various warehouse technology such as barcode scanners and printers, has more than 8,000 employees, 10,000 channel partners and generated revenues of more than $4 billion in 2020. Fetch was founded in 2014, has approximately 100 employees and generates annual orders of approximately $10 million.

Alongside its portfolio of AMRs, which can help reduce the impact of labor shortages by improving throughput, efficiency and productivity while working alongside people in fulfillment, distribution and manufacturing environments, Fetch offers Workflow Builder, a drag-and-drop workflow development studio designed to enable out-of-the-box automation so that customers and partners can deploy automated material handling workflows in hours instead of months.

Fetch Robotics’ also offers a cloud-based Enterprise Software, FetchCore, as the foundational platform for deploying and fully integrating a broad range of automated workflows into manufacturing and warehouse operations and providing unique insights into facilities through machine learning on AMR sensor data. The planned acquisition furthers Zebra’s vision to bring advanced robotics solutions to customers who have labor-intensive operations.

With the acquisition, Zebra can leverage offerings such as its FulfillmentEdge Warehouse Execution System (WES) solution and the data-driven SmartSight automation platform makes the integration of AMRs alongside other processes (both automated and manual) even more effective and potentially enticing for customers.

Buy now, pay later

Browns Shoes/Paybright

Footwear retailer Browns Shoes has partnered with installment payments provider PayBright in a team up of two Canadian firms, enabling shoppers both online and at Browns stores nationwide to pay over time in four, interest-free, biweekly installments.

For Browns, a key factor in selecting PayBright as its buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider was PayBright’s ability to fully integrate with Browns’ in-store point-of-sale (POS) system, allowing store associates to offer installment payments to customers at checkout.

Through the integration, Browns Shoes store associates select PayBright as a payment option when customers are ready to pay for their purchase. Customers receive a text message or email on their smartphone, allowing them to quickly complete the PayBright payment process and pay in four interest-free installments.

“In 1940, we opened our doors on St. Catherine Street in Montreal. 80 years later, we continue to work hard to offer our Browns family the best customer experience possible,” said David Brownstein, vice president of sales, Browns. “As technologies and customer needs change, so do we. Offering PayBright as a payment option helps us to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers and provide them with the most personalized experience and highest-quality footwear on the Canadian market.”

Browns joins a growing list of Canadian fashion retailers offering PayBright’s buy now, pay later option at checkout. To date, more than 9,000 domestic and international merchants including Hudson’s Bay, Sephora, Shein among others offer PayBright’s installment plans. The plans range from four biweekly payments for smaller purchases up to 60 months for larger purchases, with interest rates as low as zero percent.

PayBright, acquired by U.S. based installment payments platform Affirm in December 2020, does not require consumers to sign up for a credit card and does not charge hidden fees, retroactive interest, revolving interest charges or late fees.

ERP/PLM

Aptean/Exenta

Aptean, a provider of enterprise software solutions, has acquired apparel and softgoods supply chain software provider Exenta for an undisclosed sum.

With the deal, Aptean now offers Exenta’s suite of solutions across enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management (PLM), Innovation Lifecycle Management and Shop Floor Control (SFC).

Exenta’s industry-specific software platforms are designed to provide customers flexibility to quickly adapt to the highly dynamic demands of the fashion and apparel markets. Exenta combines scalable, intuitive technology with deep domain expertise in design, sourcing, production and distribution. Exenta’s ERP, PLM and SFC solutions can help customers streamline operations, increase revenue and enhance efficiency, while their electronic data interchange (EDI) solution can enable seamless communication with vendors and consumers.

Both the Aptean and Exenta software can be hosted in the cloud or installed on-premise.

Exenta serves more than 41,000 users in 15 countries worldwide, with its products supporting multiple languages and currencies.

While Aptean’s enterprise resource planning and supply chain solutions are designed to meet the needs of specialized manufacturers and distributors in more than 20 industries, with its compliance solutions serve specific markets such as finance and life sciences, the addition of Exenta’s enterprise technology solutions further builds Aptean’s industry-focused ERP capabilities in the apparel, footwear and accessories vertical.

Retail task management

UnTuckit/Yoobic

UnTuckit has selected digital workplace platform Yoobic to optimize operations and streamline employee training across its more than 80 brick-and-mortar stores. With Americans resuming in-person shopping in the wake of the pandemic, and also investing in business-casual apparel as they return to workplaces, the new partnership will enable UnTuckit to drive sales across every customer touchpoint.

To scale operations back up in the highly digital environment driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, UnTuckit is using Yoobic’s digital workplace solution as a single point of truth for store associates, with a streamlined mobile app assisting them as they manage daily tasks, access virtual training, and give feedback and progress reports to their supervisors.

By unifying communications and task management in a single mobile app, Yoobic puts all necessary tools and resources at store associates’ fingertips as they move around the sales floor or stockroom. Yoobic also provides employee training using engaging, bite-sized quizzes and videos—such as tips on helping customers to find their perfect fit—to keep employees on track without disrupting their workflows or requiring them to step off the sales floor.

Mobile engagement features are designed to keep UnTuckit’s team members connected with their supervisors and with updates direct from HQ, helping them to stay up to speed on new policies, protocols, and product categories. Additionally, the platform can help them quickly and consistently roll out new in-store features such as merchandise displays or banners for new promotions. The Yoobic platform also gives regional managers visibility into each store’s performance, training completion rates and policy compliance, without the need to visit each store in-person, the company says.

“UnTuckit is dedicated to delivering stellar experiences for customers both online and in our physical retail stores,” said Brent Paulsen, managing director, head of retail at UnTuckit. “Yoobic’s digital workplace gives our associates the support and tools they need to dazzle our customers and deliver consistent excellence every single time someone walks into the store.”

Livestream shopping

ISawItFirst/OOOOO

ISawItFirst, a U.K.-based online curator of women’s and men’s fashion merchandise, has to signed an agreement to display, promote and sell its products on OOOOO’s unique live commerce shopping app.

Andrew Stevenson-Thorpe, chief technology officer at ISawItFirst, noted that the company sees video commerce and the partnership with OOOOO as a key driver of its growth going forward.

ISawItFirst has an Instagram following of 1.3 million followers and an active database in excess of 4 million, making the partnership with OOOOO a solid fit to accelerate conversion to revenue producing subscribers on the OOOOO platform. ISawItFirst currently has an exclusive collaboration with the U.K. television series “Love Island,” which it has sponsored for the show’s past three seasons.

ISawItFirst, a U.K.-based online curator of women’s and men’s fashion merchandise, has to signed an agreement to display, promote and sell its products on OOOOO’s unique live commerce shopping app.

Through such collaborations and partnerships, ISawItFirst is increasing OOOOO’s visibility among U.K. consumers without the typical added costs that come with advertising or paid media. The partnership will see OOOOO take a percentage of the gross merchandise value that is generated on the ISawItFirst series within OOOOO’s disruptive technology.

“From our first few months on the OOOOO platform, we have seen outstanding results. During live shows, we are able to capture immediate customer insight as well as engage in real-time with the audience,” said Stevenson-Thorpe. “We are also seeing a drop in customer returns from orders made during live shows, an indication that a video is a better guide to customers than a still image. In addition, we are seeing sales conversion rates on OOOOO two to four times better than traditional fashion websites. That makes this platform exciting. Data suggests that the app is also helping us discover new customers. In our business, getting the first order in the hands of a customer is the hardest and most expensive.”

OOOOO Entertainment Commerce operates a technology platform designed to enables retailers, brands and entrepreneurs to share product-based opinions directly to consumers through live, interactive, shoppable videos. The platform also offers gamification and social features which can reward the community for helping to grow the user base, and in turn help reduce the need for traditional ad networks.

Sam Jones, CEO of OOOOO, said the company is “deliberately” launching OOOOO into fast fashion, sport, beauty and wellness, calling it “critical” to have leading players in each of these categories.

Personalization

New Look/Kibo Commerce

New Look has selected Kibo Personalization to scale its testing and personalization capabilities. The U.K.-based fashion retailer is planning to implement a holistic conversion rate optimization (CRO) program with Kibo across key channels, with a special focus on improved agility, more flexible testing and experimentation (using features like dynamic testing), advanced customer segmentation, analytics and insights, and out-of-the-box integrations with partners like Contentsquare.

“Kibo Personalization has what we were looking for in a new partner,” said Robyn Walker, senior optimization manager, New Look. “Not only does the company have a proven track record of fast onboarding and implementation, but it offers user-friendly yet robust testing capabilities to fit a wide variety of scenarios. We’re excited to expand our testing program and to connect customer experiences across channels with a unified approach.”

New Look has several business goals that drove the retailer to select Kibo, particularly in that it droves new customer acquisition and retention with a variety of new experiences, and Kibo provides New Look the ability to easily and effectively scale its optimization program.

The personalization portion of Kibo is one of many for the unified commerce platform, which also offers AI-driven personalization from acquired software Monetate and Certona, as well as omnichannel commerce for B2C and B2B models, enterprise-grade order management and customer data-enhanced point of sale.

E-Commerce

Trendyol

Trendyol raised $1.5 billion, valuing the Turkish e-commerce platform at $16.5 billion.

“Trendyol’s marketplace model, which spans everything from grocery delivery to mobile wallets, brings convenience and ease to consumers in Turkey and internationally,” said Melis Kahya Akar managing director and head of consumer for EMEA at private equity firm General Atlantic, which co-led the funding round. “We see real potential for the company to accelerate its already substantial growth in the regional and global e-commerce space.”

SoftBank Group Corp.’s SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Princeville Capital and sovereign wealth funds ADQ (UAE) and Qatar Investment Authority also participated in the riase. Alibaba, Trendyol’s strategic partner and investor, invested $350 million in March, and is committed to support the e-commerce platform’s “continued growth in Turkey and international expansion,” General Atlantic said.

Founded in 2010 by Harvard Business School dropout Demet Mutlu, Trendyol is now Turkey’s largest e-commerce firm, serving over 30 million shoppers and delivering more than 1 million packages each day.

Based in Istanbul, the platform began as a fast-fashion e-tailer working with local factories, enabling Trendyol to move ideas from design to production in a week. The company also posted samples immediately on its site, allowing customers to order online as production is being completed. For many years, the site carried its own private label fashion brands, as well as third-party brands. While Trendyol has control over its own labels’ pricing, third-party brands set their own prices, with the platform receiving a percentage for each sale.

“We founded Trendyol to create positive impact in the countries we serve. The funding proceeds will support Trendyol’s growth both within Turkey and internationally. In particular, Trendyol will continue its  investment in nationwide infrastructure, technology and logistics, accelerate digitalisation of Turkish SMEs,” Mutlu said.

According to General Atlantic, the company now has a “super-app, combining its marketplace platform powered by its own last-mile delivery solution (Trendyol Express), with instant grocery and food delivery through its own courier network (Trendyol Go), its digital wallet (Trendyol Pay), consumer-to-consumer channel (Dolap) and many other services.”

“There is tremendous growth potential in Turkey given its young and growing population and impressive human capital.  We will leverage our strong team, our extensive technological capabilities, and Turkey’s strengths in manufacturing and logistics to become a leading player in EMEA and to create new export channels for Turkish merchants and manufacturers, Evren Ucok, Trendyol’s chairman, said.

Additional reporting by Vicki Young.